Photo courtesy of IMSA

Gidley returns to Daytona, excited for next racing chapter

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Memo Gidley’s accident in the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona left him with significant nerve pain and a long road to recovery before resuming regular traveling, or resuming his day job as a driver.

But he took his biggest step yet on the road back to Daytona today, with his first trip back to Daytona International Speedway as a guest of IMSA on Thursday.

Gidley sustained the accident in 2014, when he hit Matteo Malucelli’s Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia. Gidley was driving a GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP and needed to be cut out from the car by rescue workers in order to be extricated.

That began a long, painful recovery process where the first year was extraordinarily difficult, the second year better but still featuring some nerve pain, and now the third year his best yet – and the closest he has been to 100 percent at the moment.

“It’s been three years since the accident, and I’d say two years of hell before last year was significantly better,” Gidley told assembled reporters in Daytona.

Gidley then ran through a laundry list of people to thank, notably Jim France and the France family, for their support in the process.

“I want to say thank you to Jim France. I knew he was a heckuva guy before this accident, because he’d always stop and chat,” Gidley explained.

“But what he did for myself after the accident, visits in the hospital, support for my wife, mom and team. It starts from the top and works itself down from everyone in IMSA from there.”

Gidley had primarily focused on California for any traveling the last couple years. After he was released from Halifax Health in Daytona Beach, he flew home to California, but said the trip home was a struggle.

His only visits to race tracks prior to Daytona this week were at Sonoma Raceway, when he visited his friends and colleagues in the Verizon IndyCar Series community.

“The only reason I went there is because it was local,” Gidley said. “The first time I went there, a year after the accident, I was driving over reflectors and it hurt. I always had to lie down and I’d needed to go to the medical center. The second year I was much more mobile, and saw my IndyCar friends. This is the first time I’ve been healed and come to a track, and that’s why I’m out here.”

Gidley called the condensed version of his recovery “gnarly,” noting how much time he spent on his stomach needing to eat while laying face down. The cumulative effort following the surgeries – the last of which for his back took place roughly a year ago – along with things such as acupuncture, Chinese herbal treatment and cryotherapy, helped move Gidley forward.

“The nerve pain was horrible at first,” he said. “Now, I don’t feel much of anything from the pain standpoint. Two years ago, I wouldn’t be sitting here. A year ago, I could, but it’d be very painful.

“I’m always about living large and living for the moment.”

Gidley is a race car driver through and through though. He’s spent a lot of time in his go-kart, which is the only race car he’s been able to drive because his FIA license needs to be renewed.

The journey to get back to a car is what is motivating him though, and what has got him through the process.

“(Getting back) is definitely all worth it. I want to get back into the race car,” he said.

“I got strong, got healed and got happy. The nerve pain isn’t fully gone, but I’m back to working on a daily basis.”

GoDaddy to sponsor Patrick in ‘Danica Double’ at Daytona, Indy — now all she needs are rides

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By The Associated Press

Danica Patrick is going back to green.

GoDaddy Green, to be exact – a fitting color for her farewell tour.

The company will sponsor Patrick in the upcoming “Danica Double” that will close out her racing career, The Associated Press has learned. Patrick has no ride yet for next month’s Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500 in May, but she now has the financial backing to pull it off.

This time around, the original GoDaddy Girl will symbolize the new core mission of the company that helped make her one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

“There’s this great story: I left IndyCar with GoDaddy on my car, I started NASCAR with GoDaddy on my car, I’m most recognized as the GoDaddy green car and driver, and so to finish up my career that way feels appropriate,” Patrick told the AP from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Her final race will be the Indy 500, an appropriate choice because it was “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that rocketed Patrick and GoDaddy into pop culture notoriety.

GoDaddy and Patrick grew up together. The company switched series with her and marketed her as a strong, sexy woman in 13 Super Bowl commercials – a record appearance for celebrities. Now, the company is most interested in Patrick the budding businesswoman who is firmly closing the door on her racing career and rebranding herself as an entrepreneur . She has a book out, an apparel line, a wine label and confirmed to AP this week that she’s dating Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Our goals are so well-aligned,” Barb Rechterman, the chief marketing officer of GoDaddy, told AP. “She’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the internet and turn their `side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers.”

Prepare to hear a lot about the “side hustle” as GoDaddy climbs aboard the so-far fledgling “Danica Double.”

Patrick announced in November she would end her driving career with the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, but didn’t have a deal completed for either race. Still doesn’t. Yet somehow, Patrick always figures a way to get what she wants. Talks ended with Chip Ganassi Racing about a possible ride, and late last month, Patrick said, she called former GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and asked about a reunion.

GoDaddy has rebranded since it last teamed with Patrick. The company now touts itself as “the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures,” and there’s no better spokeswoman than Patrick, who is in the next chapter of her life and her brand.

GoDaddy pulled out of racing after the 2015 season, and Patrick hasn’t had the same level of funding and marketing support since. Patrick has slowly reshaped her image, first into a Instagram model and is now a full-blown lifestyle guru. She realized – at the age of 35 – she was on her own.

She and GoDaddy aligned for a splashy move into NASCAR, where she was glamorous off the track but only mediocre on it. Through all of this, she was married, divorced, spent five years dating fellow driver and competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and then seemed to find herself through a tailored diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

She is cutting the cord on racing after Indy, and her focus is on a sense of well-being far away from the track.

“Their business is so perfectly paired to what is going on with mine, so when we sat down and met, it was like, `Let’s talk about our business. Let’s talk about the messaging. How does this work?”‘ Patrick said. “And this is undeniably perfect for both of us. Not only is it a huge two races and the biggest two races of the year, but on top of that, you have so much `side hustle’ going on, and all the messaging and our brands, and where we are going is so perfectly paired.”w

GoDaddy can help Patrick move on to whatever it is for racing’s former “It Girl.” The company will help her streamline her online presence. Patrick, for the company, is back as a neon green-and-yellow symbol to all the wannabe entrepreneurs chasing dreams.

She’ll get those rides, too. Patrick said she knows she will because she believes she will.

“That’s just the way the universe works,” she said. “You have to ask for what you want. Things have taken a long time with this, but you just have to go with the flow on these things. The universe is not on your time schedule.”

More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org/